The University of Northern Iowa is committed to providing access to the whole of the university experience, both curricular and co-curricular, for all students. Where students with disabilities are concerned, the university follows considerations set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) which require the provision of equivalent access that allows students with disabilities an education equal to that of their non-disabled peers.
The university’s primary obligation is to be inclusive rather than exclusive, providing reasonable accommodations to include students in individual courses, rather than excluding students from programs or graduation requirements. Student Disability Services of the university is dedicated to ensuring that all persons with disabilities have access to university activities, programs, and services and is charged with facilitating course accommodations and providing specialized services for students with disabilities.
University policy where course accommodations are concerned is to view accommodations as a continuum of individualized adjustments; the standard of practice being the student’s completion of the program or graduation requirement with the advice and support of Student Disability Services. To initiate the process of accommodation, the student is obliged to self-identify to Student Disability Services, to provide appropriate documentation verifying the disability, and to consult with disability services personnel in a timely manner during their academic program. Working with individual faculty, disability services professionals design specialized services and identify appropriate resources to maximize student learning within the university’s specified curriculum.
In some cases, where individual course accommodations are not feasible, the university provides for consideration of a course substitution if such action best services the needs of the student. Because program and graduation requirements are integral parts of the experience of the university curriculum, requests for a substitution are considered on a case-by-case basis and according to procedure specified in this document.
The following procedures must be followed if a student with a documented disability is seeking a course substitution for any university program or graduation requirement.
1. The student must provide Student Disability Services with current, relevant, and comprehensive documentation and assessment data from certified professionals, as designated by Student Disability Services. Documentation must include clear articulation of functional limitations in the student’s abilities. (The presentation of documentation does not in itself insure that a course substitution will be approved.)
2. The student must provide Student Disability Services a case history of his/her difficulty with the requirement in question until the date of the petition. The case history should include:
- A personal statement by the student indicating the reasons for the request including prior experiences with the subject matter; and
- The names of courses and grades, as well as appropriate letters from high school and/or college faculty attesting to the student’s previous efforts in attempting to master the subject matter.
3. The student must complete a Student Request form and submit it to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost (Seerley 001).
Upon completion of these steps, Student Disability Services provides the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost with relevant information regarding the effects of the student's disability and academic history. The information submitted to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost from Student Disability Services may include a recommendation for grade requirement where relevant. Personnel within the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost review the Student Request along with accompanying documentation from Student Disability Services. The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will consult with the Coordinator of Student Disability Services, the Department Head for the program or graduation requirement in question, and any additional faculty or professional staff if necessary or appropriate to make a proper decision in the case.
In order for a course substitution to be considered, there must be strong, objective evidence that the student will be unable to fulfill the requirement. Objective evidence means that the student’s documentation, assessment data, and case history indicate that the student will be unable to fulfill the requirement. In order for a course substitution to be granted, there must also be consensus among personnel within the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Coordinator of Student Disability Services that individual course accommodations and Student Disability Services support would not be adequate in the case in question.
Students filing petitions for course substitutions have the option of participating further in the decision-making process by making an appointment to discuss their case on an individual basis with personnel within the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost at the time their course substitution request is being considered.
The student who is approved for a course substitution must select an alternate course/courses for equivalent credit hours from the approved course substitution list (see below). After approving appropriate substitutions, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost notifies the Registrar’s Office, which is responsible for monitoring the completion of the substitution requirement.
In the case where a course substitution has been granted and an approved course substitution list does not exist, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Student Disability Services, and the Department Head for the program/graduation requirement in question will work together to determine an appropriate substitution.
Furthermore, the student who is approved for a course substitution may submit an additional Student Request to the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost to have a grade lower than C- in the course previously attempted removed from their academic record. This request will be approved in cases where the petition for a course substitution is granted.